LEAVENWORTH, Kan. – Hundreds packed part of the Leavenworth National Cemetery Thursday to say thank you and farewell to a man they didn't even know. FOX 4 first aired the story last week about Mr. Eton Gilmore, a disabled, homeless vet who died in an abandoned house in Kansas City.
Gilmore’s friend Maryannah Mosley worked tirelessly to make sure he'd have a proper military burial. About 200 people, mostly strangers, showed up to pay their respects to Gilmore at the Leavenworth National Cemetery.
The sound of helicopters overhead, the crack of the rifles, the bugle with the final salute; a farewell to a veteran.
Mosely carried close a picture of her friend, Purple Heart recipient Gilmore.
“Eton would've loved it. I had no idea anyone was going to show up,” she said.
A Vietnam veteran herself, she spends her time feeding the homeless and disabled. Gilmore was one of those people. When she found out he died, she had him moved from the Kansas City morgue to a KCK funeral home, then set out to make sure he`d get buried with military honors.
“I just couldn't believe it. I didn't know that being on the TV with a sad story to begin with, that I'd have all this support. I had no idea. The Army became his family,” Mosley said.
A long line of cars wound its way down the hill. Hundreds of strangers came from Missouri and Kansas. Annie Gilson said Gilmore`s service and Mosley`s dedication to honoring him, is admirable.
“It's because she went to the trouble of taking care of a military veteran. Not a lot of people step up and it's important that we do,” Gilson said.
Gilmore`s nieces and other family learned of his death through Mosley`s efforts.
“We've very grateful for that and we appreciate that because if the story had not aired, we would not have known,” Doreah Kares said.
“We didn't expect all the veterans. We didn't expect this much love from people. So we're just very appreciative,” Sarah Matthews, another niece, said.
Strangers, people driven by a sense of pride and a debt of gratitude; hundreds saying their farewells in the February sunlight.